Hear Black Sabbath's Live 'Iron Man' With Alternate Lyrics - Rolling Stone
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Hear Black Sabbath’s Live ‘Iron Man’ With Alternate Lyrics From 1970

Track features on new ‘Paranoid: Super Deluxe’ box set

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Listen to Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" with alternate lyrics, as recorded in 1970 before the album 'Paranoid' came out. It features on a new box set.

Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns/Getty

A new box set dedicated to Black Sabbath‘s monumental second album, Paranoid, contains two live recordings with performances featuring alternate lyrics for some of the band’s most well-known songs. One of them, recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, in August 1970 – weeks before the record came out in the U.K. – finds Ozzy Osbourne singing markedly different words to “Iron Man”: “Now he’s standing there/Iron Man don’t you dare/For he wants you, too/Iron Man, I love you.” It’s unclear whether or not these were scratch lyrics from before the band’s June recording sessions that year.

The recently released set, dubbed Paranoid: Super Deluxe, contains the original album, a stereo version of the quadrophonic edition, the Swiss concert and another recorded in Brussels, Belgium, in the fall of 1970. It also contains reproductions of the group’s tour book at the time and new liner notes featuring new interviews with Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, as well as members of Judas Priest and others who knew them at the time, housed in a hardcover book. (Disclosure: The liner notes were written by this author.)

Butler reveals in the liner notes that he took inspiration for the “Iron Man” lyrics from Iommi’s thunderous riff. “I just thought it was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard, so I wanted to reflect that in the lyrics,” he said. “Ozzy had said the riff sounded like some big iron bloke walking through the city, so I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds good. I’ll make it about some guy that gets turned into steel, and goes into the future in a time machine kind of thing, and then he comes back and wants to warn the world that they’re on the wrong way of doing things, and people just don’t take any notice of him.’ It sort of reflected what people thought about the band, the way we were slagged off in the press. Eventually the iron man in the song gets his revenge on them.”

“I thought the lyrics to ‘Iron Man’ were really sad,” Ward says. “I asked Geezer what it was he wrote and I didn’t really understand it. So I listened to it again over and over. I’m what people call an ‘orchestrational’ drummer, so I play to what the lyric is saying. I tried to make it sound sad.”

In other Black Sabbath news, the group is currently winding down its final tour. They played their last U.S. concert in San Antonio, Texas, last weekend and are headed for South America. They will play their last concert together in Birmingham, England, on February 4th.


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